Attention – Due To Allegations of Plagiarism, This Article Is Highly Suspect

In a couple of months, India would be approaching 60 years of age, marking time from the days when India’s tryst with destiny began. 60 years is not long in the life of a nation’s organized political system, but perhaps there are symptoms of approaching middle age. Elsewhere, in he nation’s demography, the country’s population is swelling at two fronts – at one end , the nation’s population of senior citizens is growing; at another end , the country is bursting at the seams because of the increasing number of those who are the young. And like the family patriarch who feels helplessly disturbed when his young grand children stand up and ask to be counted, the country’s government, manned by gerontocrats is doing just that – throwing up signs of anger, frustration and worry and yet knowing that the sulking grand child has to be some how brought along, for that is the direction of the future.

 

The ongoing tussle over the admissions to the Indian institutes of management is a part of the collective demonstration of pubescent sulk. 60 years ago, when Jawaharlal lal Nehru and his colleagues in the Congress set up the manner in which we are now governed, it was never anticipated that dissent would be any thing more than a timed whine which could be nudged and cajoled into conformity by some grand fatherly sops. But that is no quite happening. What we see is government policies— largely guided by men in their seventies or early eighties being increasingly challenged by other organs of the state and country which once had only milk teeth band little bark or bite , but now with the vigor of youth, appearing to have a little bit of both.

 

In the fifties and sixties, when Nehru ran the government and those in power today were amongst its junior most arms, a serious challenge to any Nehruvian policy, be it right or wrong was unthinkable. The first prime minister’s towering public stature and the early days of most of India’s institutions – be it the judiciary, the media or even the apolitical but concerned citizen ensured that there was little dissent of note though even Nehru’s enemies will admit that he was in essence, a democrat to his bones.

 

That dissent is today begging to happen. Be it in the economic sphere or the educational sphere, or in the social sphere, dissent and vigorously robust and sustained dissent is beginning to happen. And the country’s minders, brought up in Nehru’s era when opposition was largely a genteel cipher is found wanting in the art of negotiation and accommodation.

 

 In the patriarchal democracy that was India till recently in its entirety and still is large measure, daddy always knew best. If you didn’t like what daddy decided, you were allowed the odd whimper and if you timed it well and daddy was indulgent enough, occasionally you might get your way. Nothing more was demanded or expected to be given.

 

But as India turns 60, the media , the citizen, the judiciary , the students and youth have all woken up and giving the government nightmares. From the time that Medha Patkar gave form and shape to organized and sustained protest by refusing to accept the sops offered to a “misguided daughter” by the government, the country’s ability to articulate dissent has come a long way – be it in Kashmir, or in Nagaland, or in Nandigram or in the portals of the courts and the institutes of learning.

 

 But our government, is showing increasing signs of paralysis on all fronts – in being unable increasingly to put up an effective case for the policies it makes on any front or in being able to contest the positions being taken by an increasingly well informed and eloquent section of its citizens, possibly because it has always lived in a culture where prolonged and unrelenting dis approval of the state and its policies was frowned upon. 

As ministers and functionaries lurch and dodder from one policy position to another, the moral fiber of the political class already tainted by one scam after another, there are clear signs that as independent India approaches 60, the signs of a “coming of age” of Indian democracy are on the horizon, even as the oiled and greased arms of governance spin and turn- albeit differently from when Nehru had laid its foundations

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